Widely considered as one of the greatest Greek songwriters of all time, Manos Hadjidakis is remembered today on the anniversary of his passing in 1994.
His contribution is widespread among the complete body of contemporary Greek music, through the second half of the 20th and into the 21st century with collaborations on songs with practically every major Greek singer of his era.
In 1960, he received an Academy Award for Best Original Song for his song Never on Sunday from the film of the same name starring Melina Mercouri.
But his absence from the awards ceremony created one of the most awkward moments in Academy Awards history.
Hadjidakis never felt proud of the Oscar and often spoke about the negative “unwanted popularity” that he acquired from the award. He thought that the film presented a negative image of Greece.
“Even the official state celebrated the Oscar that I won unwittingly, and without planning it, I fought for years to remove this “title of honor” from my back.”
His very first work was the tune for the song “Paper Moon” (“Χάρτινο το Φεγγαράκι”), from Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.
In 1948 he shook the Greek musical establishment by delivering his legendary lecture on rembetika, the urban folk songs that flourished in Greek cities, mainly Piraeus, after the Asia Minor refugee influx in 1922 and until then had heavy underworld and drug use connotations and were looked down upon by Greek society of the time.
In 1966 he travelled to New York City for the premiere of Illya Darling, a Broadway musical based on Never on Sunday, which starred Mercouri. He did not return to Greece until 1972 due to his opposition to Greece’s military dictatorship.
Enjoy some of Manos Hadjidakis’ All Time Classics:
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